My summer thus far has included a lot of driving and quite a bit of time to myself to think and reflect. Although I haven't been able to do as much painting as I would have liked, I always remember a fellow artist and friend telling me that it was okay- like the mighty oak tree- to have dormant periods where we are nurtured, resting, and preparing for our next season of growth. I have felt that deeply this summer, as our world begins to open and we happily begin to see and hug each other again without fear.
As an artist, I am not able to do a compulsary production schedule. I have deadlines and goals, and I can practice my art on a regular schedule, but my creativity does not follow my lead. It has it's own mind, it's own epiphanies, it's own energetic structure. I have to follow the lead of my creativity, and when I join in fully, there are some purely magical moments. But just as there are magical moments, there are intensely challenging periods of time where I feel stuck, distracted, overwhelmed, or emotionally not available to enter into that sacred space of creating.
I've been all of those things the past couple of months, and yet, God continues to send messengers of hope, light, laughter and love my way in the form of friends, old and new. All my traveling this summer has brought me into contact with people whose souls seem to connect with mine, if only for a little while. I have met old high school friends, "mom" friends, relatives and those I hadn't met before, and complete strangers whose kindness truly touched me. All have enriched my life , encouraged me, and given me new perspectives. I have so much gratitude, and can only hope I've given a little back to them. I look forward to seeing more and more friends as the year continues.
nI suppose for and introvert/extrovert like me, I enjoy my private time and need a lot of it, but also am fueled by connection with others. The pandemic has proven to be a time of reflection and steady, solitary work, but I am realizing for the first time how much I have missed communing with other souls, and how truly grateful I am for the opportunity.
One thing about being an artist is being surprised by how your own mind and soul process your experience. It is not methodical or predictable, but it is somehow magical and I am looking forward to taking this new awareness into my next phase of work.
See you soon!
I was out of town awhile in May and June, and while I had brought a few art supplies with me, It wasn't conducive to do much more than a commission I had been working on. My thoughts were all over the place, much as they have been this entire summer. So I bought a sketchbook and started just playing. I have not used sketchbooks for my watercolors, simply because the paper is not usually high quality, so I don't like the outcome. But this time is different. I am not pressuring myself to DO anything. I'm just seeing what emerges as my thoughts come and go. There is an ease that comes with putting down on paper the fleeting ideas and reflections of beauty that come my way without the commitment of a full painting.
I'm letting that be enough. Even though I need to be painting and selling my art, the fact is that unless it comes from an authentic place of love and meaning, it simply doesn't work. So my little sketchbook is being filled, and this week, a friend of mine (thank you Lance!) sent me a link to a website where a woman makes her own pigments out of plants in her yard. Intrigued, I tried it. It was so freeing and exciting to see what happened on the paper.
For this painting I crushed up the spent flowers of my deep pink Purslane, added a bit of boiling water, and used some honey for the binder. It actually worked beautifully for these little pale pink flowers I painted.
"Creativity is a continual surprise."
Amanda Gorman portrait commission
If you have ever thought about having a painting commissioned, but didn't know where to start, you are not alone! Most people have no idea where to start, and so a great idea for an original piece of art fizzles out before it has a chance to begin.
Commissions are custom paintings that can be done for a collector of just about anything they want. I have painted pets, houses, portraits, and landscapes, but any subject matter can work. I have painted childhood homes, departed beloved pets, bridal portraits, flowers, travel photos, children and grandchildren, and custom work for a specific room and/or color scheme. Commissioned work is limited only by your imagination.
Here are a couple of things you need to do to have a successful commission completed for your space:
1: Find a photo with good lighting and clear images. It is difficult for an artist to open closed eyes or combine two photos, so start with a quality photograph the artist can work with and communicate clearly what you want- colors, mood, size, etc.
2. Communicate your wants with the artist with email or a phone call and look at the artists other work to make sure their style of work is what you want. Ask for progress photos, timelines, payment, etc. so that everyone is on the same page.
If you are interested in commissioning a painting of any kind from me, I have a specific form on my website for you to fill out to get started. Click here- Commissioned Artwork - to begin the process of finding the perfect customized painting for you . I would be honored to paint something for you.
As a watercolor painter, I am so thankful to live in the era of giclée printing.
Giclée printing conveys the luminosity and brilliance that represents the watercolor painting better than any other reproduction technique available. When printed on heavy watercolor paper, these reproductions rival original artwork in beauty and detail.
Giclée (pronounced zhee-clay) is a term created in the early 1990's to refer to digitally-reproduced fine art print and is based on the French verb “gicler” which means to squirt or spray a liquid, which is how the ink from the powerful inkjet printer is applied. Giclée has since then come to mean any high resolution inkjet print produced on large format printers from a digitally generated file. These printers use fade-resistant, archival inks with multiple variations of each color which increases the resolution and color accuracy and allows for more delicate color and value transitions.
Prominent art museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Guggenheim, Smithsonian Institute, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have hosted exhibitions featuring fine art giclée prints.
So that's what a giclée fine art print is. What you get when you buy a giclée print is artwork that is difficult to discern from the original, for a lot less money. It's a great way to get fine art into your hands and into your spaces, and stay within your budget.
To see a selection of my giclée prints, visit prints .
I don't know about you, but it was slow going this week and I had a couple of difficult days trying to paint something I wasn't completely frustrated with. After the past couple of frozen weeks, I was back in my thawed out studio and started painting.. and nothing happened.
The landscapes I was working on this particular day were Blah with a capital B. I had a nice little stack of paintings I was tempted to put in the fire pit.
The next day, we were talking about it and Gary asked a great question - had I been painting photos I really loved. I had not. Actually I had been working on several photos in my "pile" that I had at one time thought would make good paintings, but I was not in love with any of them.
I went back to my studio, and started working on one I really wanted to paint. A road out in New Mexico that is in the middle of sagebrush and always makes me think of Georgia O'Keefe- she used to take off in her model A across the desert sage in hopes of finding the perfect spot in which to paint. Georgia is one of my favorite artists because of her fortitude in finding what she loved, what spoke to her heart and soul. She lived in New York and painted in beautiful Lake George but it wasn't until she came to know the desert in New Mexico that she fell completely in love with a landscape. A place that sustained her creativity for decades.
It made me think again about what the difference is in those days where nothing happens, and the days where everything has a little magic in it. How do you find what you love when you aren't feeling inspired? How do you sustain the creative flow? Some of it may be the "muse" at work, but there are a few things we can control, so here are my tips for getting unblocked and back to painting:
1. Set the mood- Get your best "painting music" playing, have your water/tea/coffee at the ready, and definitely give yourself the benefit of working during your most creative/productive time of day.
For me this looks like 6am with my coffee and spotify "art" playlist.
2. Take a walk- I need a walk periodically throughout the day to give my back a break, one, and to clear my head and work through what isn't working in my painting. Somehow getting out and breathing in a change of scenery is transformative in how I see things when I return to my studio.
3. Have an inspiration board- a physical board works best for me. On it I put up my best paintings- Photos that I want to paint, ideas, quotes and verses that inspire me. I also put up words that resonate with my work. Terms that describe the heart of what I want to convey in my work. "whimsical", "buoyant", "beautiful", "sacred" are some of mine.
4. Call a friend- Ask someone, maybe an artist friend- who understands the struggle- how they see your work, what it says to them, words that describe it. This is invaluable. It's powerful to hear from others how your work speaks to them, and may just give you the boost you need to get through your block.
So I painted "Georgia's road" - my little reminder to be true to myself- and the magic happened. At least magic in my mind, and whether it's in my mind or comes across in the painting, I don't always know, but I am satisfied either way.
I love what I do. There is nothing else I would rather spend my day doing than painting. It satisfies me on so many different levels that I don't think anything else in this world could substitute for it.
So as it is in painting, often it is in life, true satisfaction doesn't come until it aligns with our passion, our spark- that thing that makes us feel like a kid again. Georgia understood that sometimes it just takes a change of scenery, a little fresh air, and a new direction to find it.
You know, I usually speak to women and from a woman's point of view, but today I would like to give a quick shout out to those men who reach out to me to give a meaningful, thoughtful gift to their wives.
In a time where it's easier than ever to buy something made in a factory from China, these husbands and fathers go the extra distance to seek out something unique and special for their partners in life. They message me with ideas, photos, verses or quotes they would like integrated into the paintings they are giving their spouse. I have been touched and inspired by these husbands, fathers and sons who go the extra mile to show their loved ones how much they care with a piece of original art or print. Makes my day!
If you are interested in original paintings, don't be hindered by what you don't know. I love working with people to give them that special piece that is one of a kind. There are options available for everyone. It's why I do what I do. Message me anytime!
I have invited you all along on this 31 day journey of exploring my painting this January, which it is both invigorating and scary at times because creating daily art is not always a given. It is an experience, a way to look inward and learn how the mind, soul and heart come together to create
Creativity can be mercurial, and our access to it sometimes has a life of it's own. The process of creating ebbs and flows, excites, invigorates, frustrates and exhausts. But most of all, it teaches us about the paradoxes involved in creating; being disciplined in order to seize an inspired moment, deconstructing old ways in order to grow new constructs, using ritual to let go of bad habits, or following the muse as you problem solve within certain constraints. Our job as an artist is to listen for it, coax it, and learn the lessons it teaches.
Sometimes we have to clear space for it, both literally and figuratively. When I started my first 31 days of painting in 2017, it I was at a point of needing a vast and thorough clearing out and cleaning up somewhere between Marie Kondo and Hoarders . Not just the space around me, but my mind and spirit were in need of it.
Like many women, I was at a place in 2017 where after doing the all. the. things. at a one time, taking care of everyone else and quite desperately trying to keep everything balanced, I was no longer in tune with my path, my creativity, or my needs.
I had been putting myself last on the list and knew I was ready to purge- getting rid of excess, changing, or rebuilding parts of my life from the ground up. I badly needed to re-evaluate and prioritize that which I valued and loved- and I needed to put myself at the top of the list.
So maybe it wasn't a surprise that a magical thing happened during the total eclipse of 2017.
I had been teaching classes at Painting with a Twist, ala Bob Ross style, for a few months. The day of the eclipse, artist and teacher Denise Hopkins https://denisehopkinsfineart.com/ flew in from New Orleans, to fine tune our methods, motivate and problem solve. I remember her enthusiasm and spark- her "can do" attitude, She spoke about taking up space in our lives; and communicating that with our bodies as we taught a class- standing tall, feet apart, palms upward, a sort of "wag the dog" approach that empowers our minds and bodies while bypassing fear and insecurity.
When the eclipse happened, she gathered with us in the eerily lit parking lot with our groovy eclipse glasses as we all experienced the awe of watching celestial bodies assert very plainly our tiny place in the universe. I later read about the spiritual meaning of a solar eclipse -
.." a time to focus on internal change, our most personal desires, and goals. The sun represents the personal significance of our desires and provokes changes that assist us in moving the unneeded from our path to help us reach and achieve our dreams."
The day was indeed strange and powerful that stayed with me as I traversed the next year.
I was inspired and kept up with Denise where I found out that she jump started her career in painting by doing 31 paintings in 31 days, way back in 2014. She was starting a group and I jumped on it, intrigued to see if I could do it, eager to bring more discipline and painting into my life. That first 31 days was transformative. I did not finish a painting every day, but the group was so encouraging and nurturing that instead of feeling guilty about it, I would just try again the following day.
In fact, I have done this every year since, and it has truly been one of the most transformative experiences for me as an artist. One of the biggest epiphanies is that I realized that if my painting wasn't "perfect", I didn't want anyone to see it. Denise and the "31ers" group, as we call ourselves, have helped me get over that aspect of being an artist. They have helped me embrace the artist inside and love it instead of shame it. Because we are a group of people simply practicing- practicing painting, writing, photography, organizing, walking, eating healthy- the whole spectrum. If we don't have something wonderful to show, it's okay, if we are stuck, someone can relate and help you through it. The lessons are something I try to carry on through the rest of the year. We could all extend a little more grace for ourselves, and for others. A little goes a long way.
I'm so appreciative of that day in 2017, meeting Denise, and all of the incredible people in the 31 group who have helped me grow artistically and spiritually. It is a nurturing, beautiful group of people and I'm a little sad today that it's ending for the year. But so very thankful to be a part of it.
I am also filled with gratitude that you have come along with me on this journey, following my art, subscribing to my website, encouraging me along the way, buying my paintings, and reading my blogs. It all means more to me than you could know. It allows me to do what I believe I am supposed to do in my life, what I love and wake up excited to do each day.
Portrait of Amanda Gorman- Inauguration 2021
Excerpt from "The Hill We Climb"
When day comes, we step out of the shade Aflame and Unafraid, the new dawn
balloons, as we Free it.
For there was always Light.
If only we're Brave enough to See it.
If only we're Brave enough to Be it.
- Amanda Gorman, youth Poet Laureate
Circle of friends
During this 31 days of painting I am participating in, my motivation waxes and wanes. Add a pandemic and political upheaval to the mix and some days I wonder why I doing this, what the point is, have not felt motivated to paint some days and certainly didn't want to post what I did paint.
At the exact right moment last week, I messaged a friend online and my bad attitude kind of peeked through. I'm not sure I was even very aware of it. But she picked up on it with her intuitive heart and just cheered me up with life affirming words, making me realize I have all of the hope and courage I need, when I step out in faith. Lucky me.
Then yesterday I had a conversation with another friend in which we discussed my art. Now, I am someone who has lots and lots of ideas and creativity, but not always the organization or focus to bring it all together. I have sticky notes everywhere, notebooks of ideas, etc. I have been working on streamlining all of this into my website and making a strategy, but then get overwhelmed. You get the idea.
My friend just absolutely met me where I was, reflected back to me a focused vision of what I want, gave me words of wisdom where I was being negative, and illuminated a pathway where I could see not only the next step, but the next 10 steps I need to take in my art career. Wicked smart and insightful, she gave me clarity, insight and guidance in approaching my work that I had not been able to see. I finished that conversation feeling like the cloud that had taken up residence in my brain had been swept away!
I am so thankful for my community of girlfriends right now. Not being able to have the same conversations with my mom as I used to has left a void and I am forever grateful for the encouragement, support, feedback, inspiration and love of friends. Women have always been the community builders, creators of circles of wisdom, support and encouragement givers, and helpers. We have never needed the invaluable nurturing and affirming of friends more than now.
Girlfriends, I am grateful for you!!!